Waiting harms patients – A novel idea?

A room full of unbelieving faces stared back at me.  I had just finished presenting a brief review of the negative clinical impacts of patient waiting.

They didn’t buy it.  My medical colleagues flatly rejected overwhelming evidence.


It’s been said that every idea must pass through 4 stages:

 1. Critics scoff at your new idea because it’s novel and lacks supporting data.

2. After gathering data, critics say it lacks significance or is biased.

3. Eventually, your idea catches public interest.  It gains popular support.

4. Finally, everyone accepts your idea, and the critics tell how your idea was theirs from the start.


Despite hundreds of papers clearly demonstrating harm for patients due to waiting, we will never see improvement without popular support.

We need to engage the public – educate them – on the risks to their health when they wait in crowded emergency departments.  We need hospital leaders and governments to understand that waiting harms patients.

We need to challenge our cherished clinical processes that have been designed to benefit providers, but actually add harmful waiting to patients’ experiences.

We need to share solutions – brave innovations – that strip all the useless, harmful waiting out of our patients’ time in our institutions.

At which stage are you in realizing that waiting harms patients? What needs to be done to recruit you, and others, as champions to help STOP Patient Waiting?


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